Philippe Coutinho pictured in Aston Villa colours for the first time since his shock loan move from Barcelona… with the former Liverpool star to wear the No 23 shirt as he reunites with Steven Gerrard
- Philippe Coutinho has been spotted in Aston Villa colours for the first time
- The Brazilian moved to Villa Park on a loan deal from Barcelona last week
- Coutinho wasn’t able to play in the FA Cup on Monday due to moving reasons
- The former Liverpool star is hoping to face Manchester United this weekend
Philippe Coutinho has been pictured in Aston Villa colours for the first time since his loan spell from Barcelona was confirmed – as the Brazilian edges nearer to a Premier League return.
Coutinho’s temporary move to Villa Park was confirmed last week, with the Midlands club holding the option to sign the former Liverpool star permanently at the end of this current season.
And the 29-year-old was officially presented as a Villa player late on Tuesday night and will wear the No 23 shirt between now and the end of the season.
Philippe Coutinho was seen in Aston Villa kit for the first time since his loan move was sealed
The Brazilian has chosen Villa Park after his next destination after a spell at Barcelona
Sportsmail revealed last week that Villa will have to pay about £33million to sign Coutinho permanently this summer from Barcelona, who still fund half of his wages this season with the other 50 per cent paid by the Premier League club.
Villa boss Steven Gerrard and Coutinho played together at Liverpool from 2013 to 15, and nearly helped the Anfield club to the league title under Brendan Rodgers in 2014.
Coutinho’s loan deal was confirmed on January 7 but immigration and medical reasons meant he was not able to take part in Villa’s FA Cup third round defeat away at Manchester United on Monday night.
Coutinho could not play in Aston Villa’s FA Cup tie on Monday as he was still finalising his move
The Brazilian will, however, be available to face United in their Premier League encounter at Villa Park on Saturday.
Coutinho revealed that his former team-mate Gerrard was key in him making the switch to Birmingham – and believes he can lear off Villa’s new boss this season.
‘It’s a pleasure to be here, it’s a great club,’ Coutinho told the Villa official website. ‘I spoke a lot with the manager, with Stevie, and he told me about the club and his ambitions. I’m very happy to be here and I’m looking to enjoy my football.’
‘I’ve known Stevie for a long time. I played with him and I learned a lot from him. He’s someone who I have big admiration for. I hope to do my best here. For sure, I will work hard, and I hope together we can do good work.
‘I’m looking forward to meeting the fans, to being on the pitch. I know and I feel that they’re happy that I’m here. I want to repay that on the pitch and enjoy my football.
The former Liverpool winger (right) is linking up with Steven Gerrard (left) again at Villa Park
‘I’m looking forward to being on the pitch. I always want to be at my best, doing my work. That’s what I work hard for every day. I hope it will be a great rest of the season here.’
Gerrard, meanwhile, believes Coutinho’s arrival at Villa Park will be invaluable between now and the end of the season, at least.
‘He is an outstanding footballer who boasts a highly impressive CV laced with plenty of elite honours. I am really pleased that we have been able to bring him on board and I am looking forward to working with him.
‘He is a player I enjoyed playing with previously and I know the rest of the squad here at Aston Villa will benefit from his quality and experience. His presence will be invaluable given injuries and the AFCON tournament have reduced our attacking options.’